The Justice and Gender-Based Violence Research Initiative, led by Co-Directors Linda M. Williams, Ph.D., and April Pattavina, Ph.D., senior research scientists, was recently launched at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW). Longtime followers of the Centers may recognize Williams, who was director of research at the Stone Center at WCW from 1996 to 2005. In that role, she led the Navy Family Study, a comprehensive approach to understanding the factors that affect successful and unsuccessful outcomes for Navy families involved with the family advocacy office, as well as the outcomes for adults and children exposed to domestic violence, child physical abuse, or child sexual abuse. Williams co-directed the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center and continued her research on the long-term consequences and memories of child sexual abuse. Pattavina comes to WCW from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where she collaborated with Williams and colleague Melissa S. Morabito, Ph.D., associate professor, on the national multi-site study of sexual assault case attrition through the criminal justice system that is described in the following interview. She brings an interest in applying advances in information and computer technology to the study of social problems. She has been invited to give presentations and workshops on the use of administrative data for policy analysis and received an award from The Boston Foundation for using data to drive community change.
Given the immense public attention on cyber bullying amongst teens and that social media is intricately tied to adolescent daily behavior, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of studies on cyber bullying are conducted on youth under 18. A recent review1 found that the highest incidence of cyber bullying in youth occurs during seventh and eighth grades—incidence that increases from elementary school, but decreases into the high school years. One might predict that since cyber bullying wanes in high school, that in college it would continue to wane. It was only until Pew’s recent study on online harassment in 2014—which demonstrated that the cyber harassment rate in young adults aged 18-24 can reach rates as high as 70 percent—that we can now see that young adulthood deserves more attention, academic inquiry, and public scrutiny.
This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of an important milestone in the history of the global women’s movement: The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA). The BPfA was the outcome document of the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, China, in September, 1995, along with the parallel NGO Forum in Huairou, China. The U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women represented the culmination of two decades of international women’s mobilizations (in Mexico City, Copenhagen, and Nairobi) and announced the formation of a truly global women’s movement. The Beijing/Huairou events were attended by over 50,000 people. Thus, this 20th anniversary is an important time of both celebration and reflection, not only for those who attended the events, but also for all those who care about and work on the issues enshrined in the BPfA.
Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D., arrived at the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) in 2010 as a deeply experienced senior researcher/micro economist. Her expertise and research accomplishments have significantly broadened the Centers’ reach into the economic implications of various government policies and marketplace realities, often with a particular focus on gender. As a micro economist, she typically studies the effects of such policies and realities on the lives of individuals, families, and children. She also brings to her work in the U.S. significant contributions from her continuing research of related issues in Europe, especially her native Finland. As a social democracy, that nation maintains a vast body of demographic statistics that has enabled her to study and quantify effects of various policies on millions of specific individuals. In some of her current work in the U.S., she seeks as far as possible to achieve an analogous breadth of scope.
Layli Maparyan, Ph.D., Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) and Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, engaged with diverse youth groups in Berlin, Germany in January 2015 to discuss the meaning of Black History Month and how it can cultivate social change leadership, not only in the U.S. but also around the world. Sponsored by the U.S. Embassy Berlin, the week-long tour offered Maparyan the opportunity to deliver a lecture, “Building Cultures of Inclusion Across Race, Ethnicity, and Religion: Comparing Notes Across the U.S. and Germany and Cultivating Social Change Leadership,” and engage in discussions with students and faculty of the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Free University; at University of Stuttgart; and at Freiburg University. Within the framework of the “womanism” praxis, Maparyan outlined non-oppositional problem-solving tools and illustrated how simple, personal acts can create amity and inclusion from the personal all the way up to the institutional level. In Bonn, Maparyan presented “A Womanist Perspective on Development” at the University of Bonn/ZEF, and “Building Cultures of Inclusion across Race, Ethnicity, and Religion: Comparing Notes across the U.S. and Germany and Cultivating Social Change Leadership” at Bonn University. Her trip concluded with Black History Month: A Storytelling Evening at Jugendkirche and a community meeting at the Anne Frank Educational Centre.
Although surgical repair of fistula is associated with improvements in women’s quality of life and mental health, researchers have found even after being treated surgically to repair their fistula, many women still have difficulty engaging in family and community life. Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Stone Primary Prevention Initiatives at WCW, traveled to Gondar, Ethiopia where she trained nurses to implement a new evidence-based depression prevention program being piloted at the University of Gondar Fistula Center. After initial planning meetings in Spring 2014, Gladstone and her team conducted onsite interviews in December with clinicians as well as patients who shared their knowledge about fistula; they talked about their current social support and coping strategies and expressed an interest in learning skills to manage their worries and feel better. After developing a protocol, Gladstone returned to Ethiopia in March 2015 and trained the clinicians (pictured below), providing follow-up support via web-based communications as the hospital team readied for implementation. This spring, data from the first two cohorts who took part in the cognitive behavioral therapy program, and from the clinicians who led the initiative at the hospital, have resulted in promising positive outcomes—depression symptom scores decreased substantially. Further program details will be included in the Fall/Winter issue of the Research & Action Report.
Tracy Gladstone, Ph.D., also traveled to Santiago, Chile in April 2015 where she presented at the inaugural symposium on the Prevention and Early Interventions in Mental Health focused on “Prevention of Depression: Translating Research Into Practice.” This is the first version of a series of biennial conferences that aims to develop new and/or updated strategies and action plans, and seek to broaden the support for evidence-based prevention and promotion in mental health in Chile and Latin America; it was organized by the Child And Adolescent Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chile. Gladstone presented on the CATCH-IT program which utilizes an internet-based interactive system to prevent the onset of a depressive episode in at-risk teens.
Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D., founder of the National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity presented at a conference on women’s studies in China and other parts of the world held at Capital Normal University in Beijing, June 26-28, 2015. This program was hosted by The Center for Studies in Chinese Women’s Culture, the Forum on Women’s Literature in Chinese, and the Women’s Literature Commission of the China World Association for Chinese Literatures. McIntosh delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference which focused on women’s studies.
Jondou Chase Chen, Ph.D. is an associate director of The National SEED Project on Inclusive Curriculum. Chen has been a SEED leader since 2003 and a SEED summer staff member since 2005. He is an associate in the department of Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he teaches, advises, and provides research and grant support. He co-facilitates a graduate-level SEED course, as well as a monthly SEED support group for recently trained New York City-area SEED leaders.
Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women; she served as an Associate Director from 1995 to 2014. Her research has encompassed variations in the course of child and adult development, women and leadership, and educational program evaluation both in the U.S. and abroad.